Affluent and successful people from cities are increasingly reaching out to their ancestral villages to initiate developmental activities
Adwaita Gadanayak is an internationally acclaimed sculptor. He is also director of the School of Fine Arts in Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), Bhubaneswar. What makes him different from other equally successful people is that he spends some part of his income to empower the women of his village, Neulapoi in Dhenkanal district of Odisha. Since 2012 he trained 70 women who now earn significant amount every month.
Anil Gupta, CA
Usha Saini is a middle class housewife, who lives in Delhi. She started a similar sewing training centre at her parental village, Patni, in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh in July 2013. She has so far trained 110 women and 85 of them earn from Rs 250 to 500 per day. “Normal stitching charge of one lady suite is Rs 250. If one stitches one suite a day one earns Rs 250, and in case if one stitches more than one suite, the amount multiplies. The more efforts you put the more you earn,” she says.
What is common between internationally known sculptor Gadanayak and middle class housewife Usha Saini is that both have reconnected to their roots by initiating a developmental activity in their respective villages. The efforts of Smt Saini need more emphasis because despite belonging to a middle class family she took up a development activity and that too in her parental village. She also motivated one of her relatives, Nirdesh Saini, who holds a senior position in HP Company in Bengaluru, to start a similar project at his parental village, Badshahpur, under same Saharanpur district in November 2015.
There are dozens of professionals and businessmen who changed their mindset and reconnected to their respective villages. Sanjay Gupta is a Delhi based businessman. His family reconnected to their parental village, Saluni, under Mahendragarh district of Haryana after 100 years. “Our forefathers migrated to Delhi in 1914 for business. Since then nobody from the family turned back even to look after the ancestral property. But, I started a stitching training centre there in 2013 and trained 30 women, who are now able to earn money with respect,” he says. The family of Smt Saroj Gupta, a yoga instructor in Delhi, also reconnected to their ancestral village (husband’s village) after almost 100 years. She started a similar stitching training centre at Bilochpura village in Jhajjar district of Haryana in 2013. She has trained about 200 women.
Shri Anil Gupta is a Chartered Accountant having his own firm in Delhi. He runs a computer training and sewing training centre in his Grandmother’s (Nani) village at Sujanpur Tihra in Himachal Pradesh. The stitching centre was started in 2011, while the computer training centre was started in 2012. Since then 350 girls have received training of stitching and 400 youth including old men received basic knowledge of computer. He also motivated his three other relatives to start similar projects. He is instrumental in starting two projects at Sulah and Nagrota village in Himachal Pradesh and one in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. Two of the projects in Nagrota and Ayodhya are promoted by his cousin Shri Sanjay Bhatnagar who lives in California, USA. There are many other successful people like Shri Somanth Agrawal, a businessman of Punjab, who started a project at his village Uggi under Jalandhar district and Shri Radheshyam Agrawal who started a stitching centre at his village Dantil under Jaipur district in Rajasthan.
The man behind this noteworthy shift in mindset is Shri Shravan Goel of Delhi, who is himself a businessman. He first materialised this idea in his own village, Jalmana, under Karnal district of Haryana in 1998 by starting a school and then a stitching training centre in 1999. He named this experiment as ‘Mera Gaon, Mera Teerth’ (my village, my pilgrimage centre). Elaborating the whole idea he says, “Over 80 per cent of the people living in urban areas belong to any of the village. Most of them maintain live contact with their respective villages, while some visit occasionally like on festivals or family functions. They do complain for poor facilities there, but never think of taking any initiative to change that situation. There is another hard fact. The large chunk of urban families regularly goes on picnics or pilgrimages at least once or twice a year. Naturally, they spend good amount on such tours. They offer some money to the presiding deities too. What if they also go to their respective villages once or twice a year treating them as another pilgrimage centre or picnic spot, and willingly join hands in any developmental activity there.”
Giving an institutional shape to this idea Shri Goel formed Ganga Sewa Sanstha in 1995. He first motivated the people in his contact or relation to take up similar projects. Now 23 such projects are run in seven states—Haryana, Delhi, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. Apart from stitching training centres, computer training centres, Bal Sanskar Kendras and libraries are also run. Thousands of students, mostly women have benefited from these projects.
The idea of reconnecting people to their roots was appreciated by RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi on April 11 when he addressed the fifth national conference of the Sanstha in Delhi. He stressed the need to start such projects in other villages also. “Today when successful people hesitate to disclose the name of their respective villages, motivating them to take up any developmental activity in their villages is praiseworthy,” he said adding that the idea may prove to be trendsetter in village development. Development of villages is not possible only depending upon the government. It needs collective efforts. If the people born in villages and doing good job or business in cities take up any initiative the picture will positively change.